Partners - Stock market, economic and political commentary by Patricia Chadwick

Health Care Reform – 1993 Redux!!

The Obama Administration’s aggressive and seemingly frantic pressure to get a health care bill passed over the next few weeks (a virtual impossibility) brings back memories of sixteen years ago, in 1993 when the newly inaugurated Clinton Administration tried exactly the same thing. And it was that very aggressiveness on the part of (most particularly) Hilary Clinton that (thankfully) ultimately doomed the project. I predict the same thing will happen again in 2009.

No one has a clue – not the Administration, not Congress, not any economists or financial wizards – as to what the costs of the colossal plan are or how it will be funded. And one thing is for sure – it will cost way, way more than even the most conservative estimates of today.

And before we all simply let the Government take over one more important piece of our economy, let’s ask a few questions of our Federal Government.

Question One – What experience have you, the Federal Government, had in running a health care system?

The one health care system the Government actually runs is for our veterans, and it is under the management of the VA (Veterans Administration). Ask anyone who has had any involvement in the system, and they will tell you horror story after horror story. Just two days ago, the New York Times (www.newyorktimes.com) had a front page article on the disastrous (and negligently criminal) state of affairs at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia. It pointed out that over a period of six years, 92 of 116 prostate operations had gone awry!!! According to the article, the hospital had broken equipment, poor supervision and no peer review system.

Ask any veteran who has diabetes if he/she has access to the latest and best drugs. They don’t, because the Federal Government will not pay for the newer and more expensive drugs. Perhaps that’s what the Administration means when they say that we must cut costs.

Question Two – Members of Congress, what health care plan do you have? Is it private or public?

Only the best! Members of Congress and their families get a Cadillac, gold-plated, platinum version of health care, and guess what? They don’t pay for it – we do!!!! They can pick whatever doctors they want; they have no (or nearly no) co-pay. They have no deductibles. And guess what? It is a PRIVATE plan, not a Government run plan.

Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as my grandmother used to say. So write to your Congressman/Senator and demand that they give the rest of the country the very same plan that they have and see what the estimated costs will be. Or better still, ask them to accept the plan they are writing for the rest of the country.

Question Three – Why isn’t tort reform part of this health care reform?

Because there are more lawyers than medical professionals involved in designing the gargantuan health care project. Health care costs would be significantly lower today if the threat of litigation were reduced. Ambulance chasers have made a fortune at the expense of good, professional and talented doctors.

Question Four – Since so many people are really happy with their insurance plan, why doesn’t the Government just come up with a plan for the uninsured?

There are 47 million uninsured people in this country (according to the Government). Surely that is a large enough pool to get some great economies of scale. If the Government can prove that it has successfully dealt with 1/6 of the population (remember it has failed miserably with the veterans), then maybe we will consider giving it more territory.

Question Five – If a national health care system is so wonderful, why do the Canadians and the British have to come to the United States to get treatment?

We all know the answer to that one, but it is important to keep it in mind. Once health care comes under the domain of the Government, it will be rationed. Period, end of story. That is the ONLY way to reduce costs. But unfortunately, it also reduces care.

Fortunately, people are already speaking loudly and clearly to their representatives in Washington regarding their concerns for Government taking over one more giant swath of the economy. If Congress listens, it will not rush headlong into creating another giant black hole of Government control and spending, but will bide its time and thoughtfully hear all the issues impacting those that practice medicine and those that receive medical care.

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5 Responses to “Health Care Reform – 1993 Redux!!”

  1. Jeff Buetow Says:

    Amen. Apparently history does repeat itself when it comes to our illustrious elected leaders. It is absolutely amazing how our Government comes to the same intersection over and over and ALWAYS goes the same ill-fated WRONG direction. It is also mind boggling how voters are relatively silent when it comes to the hypocrisy being practiced by these same Markovian decision makers. We watch from the sidelines while they legislatively contsrain our lives but not their own (not to mention the lifetime benefits one gets after serving just 2 years!). Finally, how are we going to pay for all of this? If the Obama administration continues along this path they are going to make the Carter administration look like the Reagan administration. We sincerely hope that they climb the learning curve sooner than later and put a halt to the continued fiscal irresponsibility. We will all pay dearly for generations to come if they don’t.

  2. Adam Tracy Says:

    In my mind health care should not be a privilege but a right. When you live in the greatest, wealthiest country in the world its citizens should not have to file for bankruptcy because they can’t pay there medical bills. Being someone who is currently living with no medical insurance/ knowing other people living without it, it’s hard to be told that you don’t deserve to see a doctor if your sick. It’s also hard to ignore nearly 80% of Americans who believe we should have a Government run health care system.

  3. Patricia Says:

    I suggested in my piece that the Government provide a program for those 47million who are not currently covered. It would be a good test of the Government’s ability to actually carry it off. But it seems to me that the premiums should be paid by the insureds, i.e. the 47 million, not the other people who are already paying premiums for their insurance. Unfortunately, 80% of the people have not seem how disastrously the Government has run the VA system.

  4. Adam Tracy Says:

    One reason for the VA in its current form being so bad is that’s completely underfunded, thanks mainly to the Bush administration. I do think it’s a good idea to test a Government program on the uninsured. Another is to give the option to purchase your own insurance, or take a government plan and see which system wins out in the end.

  5. Patricia Says:

    Well, we are on the same side, particularly with regard to letting the government prove their ability.